New US COVID Testing Requirements for International Travel – What You Need To Know

New US COVID Testing Requirements for International Travel – What You Need To Know

The United States will require all inbound international travellers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, to test negative for COVID-19 within one day of departure starting on Monday, 6 December.

President Joe Biden announced the rollout of the stricter requirements in response to the recent discovery of the Omicron COVID variant.

Shortening the testing window aims to “provide less opportunity to develop an infection with the omicron variant prior to arrival in the United States,” according to the updated CDC order. 

US airlines have been asked to collect contact-tracing information for incoming international travellers and send it to the CDC “upon request” since the country adopted a new set of international travel restrictions. 

The information collected includes names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and dates of birth.

Type of Acceptable Test


Travellers must take a viral test, which includes antigen tests and nucleic acid amplification tests such as:

  • reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests
  • reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) tests
  • transcription-mediated amplification (TMA) tests
  • nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR) tests
  • helicase-dependent amplification (HDA) tests.

Tests must be authorised for use in the country it was administered, according to the CDC.

Regardless of what test you use, all travellers must obtain documentation of their results before boarding their flight. This documentation may come as a QR code, text, email, or piece of paper. 

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you can also show your positive COVID-19 test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before departure and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider clearing you for travel. 

One Day Instead of 24 hours Timeframe

Different tests yield different wait times, ranging from fifteen minutes to several days. With a tight one-day turnaround, it’s necessary to take a test that delivers results within the appropriate window. 

The one-day period offers more flexibility than a 24-hour time limit and allows travellers to take a test any time the day before departure. 

For those who want to find out more about their testing options, airline websites can be a useful tool. Many international carriers offer information on testing requirements and where to find testing centres overseas. 

What are your thoughts on this issue? Talk to us in the comment section below.

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